ANNE BRADSTREET AND HER TIME
AUTHOR OF "PRISONERS OF POVERTY," "MRS. HERNDON'S INCOME," "MISS MELINDA'S OPPORTUNITY," ETC.
A BOOK FOR "MISS ICY."
Grave doubts at times arise in the critical mind as to whether America has had any famous women. We are reproached with the fact, that in spite of some two hundred years of existence, we have, as yet, developed no genius in any degree comparable to that of George Eliot and George Sand in the present, or a dozen other as familiar names of the past. One at least of our prominent literary journals has formulated this reproach, and is even sceptical as to the probability of any future of this nature for American women.
What the conditions have been which hindered and hampered such development, will find full place in the story of the one woman who, in the midst of obstacles that might easily have daunted a far stouter soul, spoke such words as her limitations allowed. Anne Bradstreet, as a name standing alone, and represented only by a volume of moral reflections and the often stilted and unnatural verse of the period, would perhaps, hardly claim a place in formal biography. But Anne Bradstreet, the first woman whose work has come down to us from that troublous Colonial time, and who, if not the mother, is at least the grandmother of American literature, in that her direct descendants number some of our most distinguished men of letters calls for some memorial more honorable than a page in an Encyclopedia, or even an octavo edition of her works for the benefit of stray antiquaries here and there. The direct ancestress of the Danas, of Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Wendell Phillips, the Channings, the Buckminsters and other lesser names, would naturally inspire some interest if only in an inquiry as to just what inheritance she handed down, and the story of what she failed to do because of the time into which she was born, holds equal meaning with that of what she did do.
I am indebted to Mr. John Harvard Ellis's sumptuous edition of Anne Bradstreet's works, published in 1867, and containing all her extant works, for all extracts of either prose or verse, as well as for many of the facts incorporated in Mr. Ellis's careful introduction. Miss Bailey's "History of Andover," has proved a valuable aid, but not more so than "The History of New England," by Dr. John Gorham Palfrey, which affords in many points, the most careful and faithful picture on record of the time, personal facts, unfortunately, being of the most meager nature. They have been sought for chiefly, however, in the old records themselves; musty with age and appallingly diffuse as well as numerous, but the only source from which the true flavor of a forgotten time can be extracted. Barren of personal detail as they too often are, the writer of the present imperfect sketch has found Anne Bradstreet, in spite of all such deficiencies, a very real and vital person, and ends her task with the belief which it is hoped that the reader may share, that among the honorable women not a few whose lives are to-day our dearest possession, not one claims tenderer memory than she who died in New England two hundred years ago.
NEW YORK, 1890.
CHAPTER I. THE OLD HOME
CHAPTER II. UPHEAVALS
CHAPTER III. THE VOYAGE
CHAPTER IV. BEGINNINGS
CHAPTER V. OLD FRIENDS AND NEW
CHAPTER VI. A THEOLOGICAL TRAGEDY
CHAPTER VII. COLONIAL LITERARY DEVELOPMENT IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY
CHAPTER VIII. SOME PHASES OF EARLY COLONIAL LIFE
CHAPTER IX. ANDOVER
CHAPTER X. VILLAGE LIFE IN 1650
CHAPTER XI A FIRST EDITION
CHAPTER XII. MISCELLANEOUS POEMS
CHAPTER XIII. CHANCES AND CHANGES
CHAPTER XIV. A LEGACY
CHAPTER XV. THE PURITAN REIGN OF TERROR
CHAPTER XVI. HOME AND ABROAD
CHAPTER XVII. THE END
ANNE BRADSTREET AND HER TIME.
THE OLD HOME.
The birthday of the baby, Anne Dudley, has no record; her birthplace even is not absolutely certain, although there is little doubt that it was at Northhampton in England, the home of her father's family. She opened her eyes upon a time so filled with crowding and conflicting interests that there need be no wonder that the individual was more or less ignored, and personal history lost in the general. To what branch of the Dudley family she belonged is also uncertain. Moore, in his "Lives of the Governors of New Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay," writes: "There is a tradition among the descendants of Governor Dudley in the eldest branch of the family, that he was descended from John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, who was beheaded 22 February, 1553." Such belief was held for a time, but was afterward disallowed by Anne Bradstreet. In her "Elegy upon Sir Philip Sidney," whose mother, the Lady Mary, was the eldest daughter of that Duke of Northumberland, she wrote:
"Let, then, none disallow of these my straines, Which have the self-same blood yet in my veines."
With the second edition of her poems, however, her faith had changed. This may have been due to a growing indifference to worldly distinctions, or, perhaps, to some knowledge of the dispute as to the ancestry of Robert Dudley, son of the Duke, who was described by one side as a nobleman, by another as a carpenter, and by a third as "a noble timber merchant"; while a wicked wit wrote that "he was the son of a duke, the brother of a king, the grandson of an esquire, and the great-grandson of a carpenter; that the carpenter was the only honest man in the family and the only one who died in his bed." Whatever the cause may have been she renounced all claim to relationship, and the lines were made to read as they at present stand:
"Then let none disallow of these my straines Whilst English blood yet runs within my veines."
In any case, her father, Thomas Dudley, was of gentle blood and training, being the only son of Captain Roger Dudley, who was killed in battle about the year 1577, when the child was hardly nine years old. Of his mother there is little record, as also of the sister from whom he was soon separated, though we know that Mrs. Dudley died shortly after her husband. Her maiden name is unknown; she was a relative of Sir Augustine Nicolls, of Paxton, Kent, one of His Majesty's Justices of his Court of Common Pleas, and keeper of the Great Seal to Prince Charles.
The special friend who took charge of Thomas Dudley through childhood is said to have been "a Miss Purefoy," and if so, she was the sister of Judge Nicolls, who married a Leicestershire squire, named William Purefoy. Five hundred pounds was left in trust for him, and delivered to him when he came of age; a sum equivalent to almost as many thousand to-day. At the school to which he was sent he gained a fair knowledge of Latin, but he was soon taken from it to become a page in the family of William Lord Compton, afterward the Earl of Northumberland.
His studies were continued, and in time he became a clerk of his kinsman, "Judge Nicholls," whose name appears in letters, and who was a sergeant-at-law. Such legal knowledge as came to him here was of service through all his later life, but law gave place to arms, the natural bias of most Englishmen at that date, and he became captain of eighty volunteers "raised in and about Northhampton, and forming part of the force collected by order of Queen Elizabeth to assist Henry IV. of France, in the war against Philip II. of Spain," He was at the siege of Amiens in 1597, and returned home when it ended, having, though barely of age, already gained distinction as a soldier, and acquired the courtesy of manner which distinguished him till later life, and the blandness of which often blinded unfamiliar acquaintances to the penetration and acumen, the honesty and courage that were the foundations of his character. As his belief changed, and the necessity for free speech was laid upon him, he ceased to disguise his real feelings and became even too out-spoken, the tendency strengthening year by year, and doing much to diminish his popularity, though his qualities were too sterling to allow any lessening of real honor and respect. But he was still the courtier, and untitled as he was, prestige enough came with him to make his marriage to "a gentlewoman whose Extract and Estate were Considerable," a very easy matter, and though we know her only as Dorothy Dudley, no record of her maiden name having been preserved, the love borne her by both husband and daughter is sufficient evidence of her character and influence.
Puritanism was not yet an established fact, but the seed had been sown which later became a tree so mighty that thousands gathered under its shadow. The reign of Elizabeth had brought not only power but peace to England, and national unity had no further peril of existence to dread. With peace, trade established itself on sure foundations and increased with every year. Wealth flowed into the country and the great merchants of London whose growth amazed and troubled the royal Council, founded hospitals, "brought the New River from its springs at Chadwell and Amwell to supply the city with pure water," and in many ways gave of their increase for the benefit of all who found it less easy to earn. The smaller land-owners came into a social power never owned before, and "boasted as long a rent-roll and wielded as great an influence as many of the older nobles.... In wealth as in political consequence the merchants and country gentlemen who formed the bulk of the House of Commons, stood far above the mass of the peers."
Character had changed no less than outward circumstances. "The nation which gave itself to the rule of the Stewarts was another nation from the panic-struck people that gave itself in the crash of social and religious order to the guidance of the Tudors." English aims had passed beyond the bounds of England, and every English "squire who crossed the Channel to flesh his maiden sword at Ivry or Ostend, brought back to English soil, the daring temper, the sense of inexhaustable resources, which had bourn him on through storm and battle field." Such forces were not likely to settle into a passive existence at home. Action had become a necessity. Thoughts had been stirred and awakened once for all. Consciously for the few, unconsciously for the many, "for a hundred years past, men had been living in the midst of a spiritual revolution. Not only the world about them, but the world within every breast had been utterly transformed. The work of the sixteenth century had wrecked that tradition of religion, of knowledge, of political and social order, which had been accepted without question by the Middle Ages. The sudden freedom of the mind from these older bonds brought a consciousness of power such as had never been felt before; and the restless energy, the universal activity of the Renaissance were but outer expressions of the pride, the joy, the amazing self-confidence, with which man welcomed this revelation of the energies which had lain slumbering within him."
This was the first stage, but another quickly and naturally followed, and dread took the place of confidence. With the deepening sense of human individuality, came a deepening conviction of the boundless capacities of the human soul. Not as a theological dogma, but as a human fact man knew himself to be an all but infinite power, whether for good or for ill. The drama towered into sublimity as it painted the strife of mighty forces within the breasts of Othello or Macbeth. Poets passed into metaphysicians as they strove to unravel the workings of conscience within the soul. From that hour one dominant influence told on human action; and all the various energies that had been called into life by the age that was passing away were seized, concentrated and steadied to a definite aim by the spirit of religion. Among the myriads upon whom this change had come, Thomas Dudley was naturally numbered, and the ardent preaching of the well-known Puritan ministers, Dodd and Hildersham, soon made him a Non-conformist and later an even more vigorous dissenter from ancient and established forms. As thinking England was of much the same mind, his new belief did not for a time interfere with his advancement, for, some years after his marriage he became steward of the estate of the Earl of Lincoln, and continued so for more than ten years. Plunged in debt as the estate had been by the excesses of Thomas, Earl of Lincoln, who left the property to his son Theophilus, so encumbered that it was well nigh worthless, a few years of Dudley's skillful management freed it entirely, and he became the dear and trusted friend of the entire family. His first child had been born in 1610, a son named Samuel, and in 1612 came the daughter whose delicate infancy and childhood gave small hint of the endurance shown in later years. Of much the same station and training as Mrs. Lucy Hutchinson, Anne Dudley could undoubtedly have written in the same words as that most delightful of chroniclers: "By the time I was four years old I read English perfectly, and having a great memory I was carried to sermons.... When I was about seven years of age, I remember I had at one time eight tutors in several qualities, languages, music, dancing, writing and needle work; but my genius was quite averse from all but my book, and that I was so eager of, that my mother thinking it prejudiced my health, would moderate me in it; yet this rather animated me than kept me back, and every moment I could steal from my play I would employ in any book I could find when my own were locked up from me."
It is certain that the little Anne studied the Scriptures at six or seven, with as painful solicitude as her elders, for she writes in the fragmentary diary which gives almost the only clue to her real life:
"In my young years, about 6 or 7, as I take it, I began to make conscience of my wayes, and what I knew was sinful, as lying, disobedience to Parents, etc., I avoided it. If at any time I was overtaken with the like evills, it was a great Trouble. I could not be at rest 'till by prayer I had confest it unto God. I was also troubled at the neglect of Private Duteys, tho' too often tardy that way. I also found much comfort in reading the Scriptures, especially those places I thought most concerned my Condition, and as I grew to have more understanding, so the more solace I took in them.
"In a long fitt of sickness which I had on my bed, I often communed with my heart and made my supplication to the most High, who sett me free from that affliction."
For a childhood which at six searches the Scriptures to find verses applicable to its condition, there cannot have been much if any natural child life, and Mrs. Hutchinson's experience again was probably duplicated for the delicate and serious little Anne. "Play among other children I despised, and when I was forced to entertain such as came to visit me, I tried them with more grave instruction than their mothers, and plucked all their babies to pieces, and kept the children in such awe, that they were glad when I entertained myself with elder company, to whom I was very acceptable, and living in the house with many persons that had a great deal of wit, and very profitable serious discourses being frequent at my father's table and in my mother's drawing room, I was very attentive to all, and gathered up things that I would utter again, to great admiration of many that took my memory and imitation for wit.... I used to exhort my mother's words much, and to turn their idle discourses to good subjects."
Given to exhortation as some of the time may have been, and drab- colored as most of the days certainly were, there were, bright passages here and there, and one reminiscence was related in later years, in her poem "In Honour of Du Bartas," the delight of Puritan maids and mothers;
"My muse unto a Child I may compare, Who sees the riches of some famous Fair, He feeds his eyes but understanding lacks, To comprehend the worth of all those knacks; The glittering plate and Jewels he admires, The Hats and Fans, the Plumes and Ladies' tires, And thousand times his mazed mind doth wish Some part, at least, of that brave wealth was his; But seeing empty wishes nought obtain, At night turns to his Mother's cot again, And tells her tales (his full heart over glad), Of all the glorious sights his eyes have had; But finds too soon his want of Eloquence, The silly prattler speaks no word of sense; But seeing utterance fail his great desires, Sits down in silence, deeply he admires."
It is probably to one of the much exhorted maids that she owed this glimpse of what was then a rallying ground for the jesters and merry Andrews, and possibly even a troop of strolling players, frowned upon by the Puritan as children of Satan, but still secretly enjoyed by the lighter minded among them. But the burden of the time pressed more and more heavily. Freedom which had seemed for a time to have taken firm root, and to promise a better future for English thought and life, lessened day by day under the pressure of the Stuart dynasty, and every Nonconformist home was the center of anxieties that influenced every member of it from the baby to the grandsire, whose memory covered more astonishing changes than any later day has known.
The year preceding Anne Dudley's birth, had seen the beginning of the most powerful influence ever produced upon a people, made ready for it, by long distrust of such teaching as had been allowed. With the translation of the Bible into common speech, and the setting up of the first six copies in St. Pauls, its popularity had grown from day to day. The small Geneva Bibles soon appeared and their substance had become part of the life of every English family within an incredibly short space of time. Not only thought and action but speech itself were colored and shaped by the new influence. We who hold to it as a well of English undefiled, and resent even the improvements of the new Version as an infringement on a precious possession, have small conception of what it meant to a century which had had no prose literature and no poetry save the almost unknown verse of Chaucer.
"Sunday after Sunday, day after day, the crowds that gathered round the Bible in the nave of St. Pauls, or the family group that hung on its words in the devotional exercises at home, were leavened with a new literature. Legend and annal, war song and psalm, State-roll and biography, the mighty voices of prophets, the parables of Evangelists, stories of mission-journeys, of perils by the sea and among the heathens, philosophic arguments, apocalyptic visions, all were flung broadcast over minds unoccupied for the most part by any rival learning. The disclosure of the stores of Greek literature had wrought the revolution of Renaissance. The disclosure of the older mass of Hebrew literature, wrought the revolution of the Reformation. But the one revolution was far deeper and wider in its effects than the other. No version could transfer to another tongue the peculiar charm of language which gave their value to the authors of Greece and Rome. Classical letters, therefore, remained in the possession of the learned, that is, of the few, and among these, with the exception of Colet and More, or of the pedants who revived a Pagan worship in the gardens of the Florentine Academy, their direct influence was purely intellectual. But the language of the Hebrew, the idiom of the Hellenistic Greek, lent themselves with a curious felicity to the purposes of translation. As a mere literary monument the English version of the Bible remains the noblest example of the English tongue, while its perpetual use made it from the instant of its appearance, the standard of our language.
"One must dwell upon this fact persistently, before it will become possible to understand aright either the people or the literature of the time. With generations the influence has weakened, though the best in English speech has its source in one fountain. But the Englishman of that day wove his Bible into daily speech, as we weave Shakespeare or Milton or our favorite author of a later day. It was neither affectation nor hypocrisy but an instinctive use that made the curious mosaic of Biblical words and phrases which colored English talk two hundred years ago. The mass of picturesque allusion and illustration which we borrow from a thousand books, our fathers were forced to borrow from one; and the borrowing was the easier and the more natural, that the range of the Hebrew literature fitted it for the expression of every phase of feeling. When Spencer poured forth his warmest love-notes in the 'Epithalamion,' he adopted the very words of the Psalmist, as he bade the gates open for the entrance of his bride. When Cromwell saw the mists break over the hills of Dunbar, he hailed the sun-burst with the cry of David: 'Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered. Like as the smoke vanisheth so shalt thou drive them away!' Even to common minds this familiarity with grand poetic imagery in prophet and apocalypse, gave a loftiness and ardor of expression that with all its tendency to exaggeration and bombast we may prefer to the slip-shod vulgarisms of today."
Children caught the influence, and even baby talk was half scriptural, so that there need be no surprise in finding Anne Bradstreet's earliest recollections couched in the phrases of psalms learned by heart as soon as she could speak, and used, no doubt, half unconsciously. Translate her sentences into the thought of to-day, and it is evident, that aside from the morbid conscientiousness produced by her training, that she was the victim of moods arising from constant ill-health. Her constitution seems to have been fragile in the extreme, and there is no question but that in her case as in that of many another child born into the perplexed and troubled time, the constant anxiety of both parents, uncertain what a day might bring forth, impressed itself on the baby soul. There was English fortitude and courage, the endurance born of faith, and the higher evolution from English obstinacy, but there was for all of them, deep self-distrust and abasement; a sense of worthlessness that intensified with each generation; and a perpetual, unhealthy questioning of every thought and motive. The progress was slow but certain, rising first among the more sensitive natures of women, whose lives held too little action to drive away the mists, and whose motto was always, "look in and not out"—an utter reversal of the teaching of to-day. The children of that generation lost something that had been the portion of their fathers. The Elizabethan age had been one of immense animal life and vigor, and of intense capacity for enjoyment, and, deny it as one might, the effect lingered and had gone far toward forming character. The early Nonconformist still shared in many worldly pleasures, and had found no occasion to condense thought upon points in Calvinism, or to think of himself as a refugee from home and country.
The cloud at first no bigger than a man's hand, was not dreaded, and life in Nonconformist homes went on with as much real enjoyment as if their ownership were never to be questioned. Serious and sad, as certain phases come to be, it is certain that home life developed as suddenly as general intelligence. The changes in belief in turn affected character. "There was a sudden loss of the passion, the caprice, the subtle and tender play of feeling, the breath of sympathy, the quick pulse of delight, which had marked the age of Elizabeth; but on the other hand life gained in moral grandeur, in a sense of the dignity of manhood, in orderliness and equable force. The larger geniality of the age that had passed away was replaced by an intense tenderness within the narrower circle of the home. Home, as we now conceive it, was the creation of the Puritan. Wife and child rose from mere dependants on the will of husband or father, as husband or father saw in them saints like himself, souls hallowed by the touch of a divine spirit and called with a divine calling like his own. The sense of spiritual fellowship gave a new tenderness and refinement to the common family affections."
The same influence had touched Thomas Dudley, and Dorothy Dudley could have written of him as Lucy Hutchinson did of her husband: "He was as kind a father, as dear a brother, as good a master, as faithful a friend as the world had." In a time when, for the Cavalier element, license still ruled and lawless passion was glorified by every play writer, the Puritan demanded a different standard, and lived a life of manly purity in strange contrast to the grossness of the time. Of Hutchinson and Dudley and thousands of their contemporaries the same record held good: "Neither in youth nor riper years could the most fair or enticing woman draw him into unnecessary familiarity or dalliance. Wise and virtuous women he loved, and delighted in all pure and holy and unblameable conversation with them, but so as never to excite scandal or temptation. Scurrilous discourse even among men he abhorred; and though he sometimes took pleasure in wit and mirth, yet that which was mixed with impurity he never could endure."
Naturally with such standards life grew orderly and methodical. "Plain living and high thinking," took the place of high living and next to no thinking. Heavy drinking was renounced. Sobriety and self-restraint ruled here as in every other act of life, and the division between Cavalier and Nonconformist became daily more and more marked. Persecution had not yet made the gloom and hardness which soon came to be inseparable from the word Puritan, and children were still allowed many enjoyments afterward totally renounced. Milton could write, even after his faith had settled and matured:
"Haste then, nymph, and bring with thee Jest and youthful jollity, Quips and Cranks and wanton Wiles, Nods and becks and wreathed Smiles, Such as hang on Hebe's cheek And love to live in dimple sleek; Sports that wrinkled care derides And Laughter holding both his sides."
Cromwell himself looked on at masques and revels, and Whitelock, a Puritan lawyer and his ambassador to Sweden, left behind him a reputation for stately and magnificent entertaining, which his admirers could never harmonize with his persistent refusal to conform to the custom of drinking healths. In the report of this embassy printed after Whitelock's return and republished some years ago, occurs one of the best illustrations of Puritan social life at that period. "How could you pass over their very long winter nights?" was one of the questions asked by the Protector at the first audience after his return from The embassy.
"I kept my people together," was the reply, "and in action and recreation, by having music in my house, and encouraging that and the exercise of dancing, which held them by the eyes and ears, and gave them diversion without any offence. And I caused the gentlemen to have disputations in Latin, and declamations upon words which I gave them." Cromwell, "Those were very good diversions, and made your house a little academy."
Whitelock, "I thought these recreations better than gaming for money, or going forth to places of debauchery."
Cromwell, "It was much better."
In the Earl of Lincoln's household such amusements would be common, and it was not till many years later, that a narrowing faith made Anne write them down as "the follyes of youth." Through that youth, she had part in every opportunity that the increased respect for women afforded.
Many a Puritan matron shared her husband's studies, or followed her boys in their preparation for Oxford or Cambridge, and Anne Bradstreet's poems and the few prose memorials she left, give full evidence of an unusually broad training, her delicacy of health making her more ready for absorption in study. Shakespeare and Cervantes were still alive at her birth, and she was old enough, with the precocious development of the time, to have known the sense of loss and the general mourning at their death in 1616. It is doubtful if the plays of the elder dramatists were allowed her, though there are hints in her poems of some knowledge of Shakespeare, but by the time girlhood was reached, the feeling against them had increased to a degree hardly comprehensible save in the light of contemporaneous history. The worst spirit of the time was incorporated in the later plays, and the Puritans made no discrimination. The players in turn hated them, and Mrs. Hutchinson wrote: "Every stage and every table, and every puppet- play, belched forth profane scoffs upon them, the drunkards made them their songs, and all fiddlers and mimics learned to abuse them, as finding it the most gameful way of fooling."
If, however, the dramatists were forbidden, there were new and inexhaustible sources of inspiration and enjoyment, in the throng of new books, which the quiet of the reign of James allowed to appear in quick succession. Chapman's magnificent version of Homer was delighting Cavalier and Puritan alike. "Plutarch's Lives," were translated by Sir Thomas North and his book was "a household book for the whole of the seventeenth century." Montaigne's Essays had been "done into English" by John Florio, and to some of them at least Thomas Dudley was not likely to take exception. Poets and players had, however, come to be classed together and with some reason, both alike antagonizing the Puritan, but the poets of the reign of James were far more simple and natural in style than those of the age of Elizabeth, and thus, more likely to be read in Puritan families. Their numbers may be gauged by their present classification into "pastoral, satirical, theological, metaphysical and humorous," but only two of them were in entire sympathy with the Puritan spirit, or could be read without serious shock to belief and scruples.
For the sake of her own future work, deeper drinking at these springs was essential, and in rejecting them, Anne Dudley lost the influence that must have moulded her own verse into much more agreeable form for the reader of to-day, though it would probably have weakened her power in her own day. The poets she knew best hindered rather than helped development. Wither and Quarles, both deeply Calvinistic, the former becoming afterward one of Cromwell's major-generals, were popular not only then but long afterward, and Quarles' "Emblems", which appeared in 1635, found their way to New England and helped to make sad thought still more dreary. Historians and antiquaries were at work. Sir Walter Raleigh's "History of the World," must have given little Anne her first suggestion of life outside of England, while Buchanan, the tutor of King James, had made himself the historian and poet of Scotland. Bacon had just ended life and labor; Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity was before the world, though not completed until 1632, and the dissensions of the time had given birth to a "mass of sermons, books of devotion, religious tracts and controversial pamphlets." Sermons abounded, those of Archbishop Usher, Andrews and Donne being specially valued, while "The Saint's Cordial," of Dr. Richard Sibbs, and the pious meditations of Bishop Hall were on every Puritan bookshelf. But few strictly sectarian books appeared, "the censorship of the press, the right of licensing books being almost entirely arrogated to himself by the untiring enemy of the Nonconformists, Laud, Bishop of London, whose watchful eye few heretical writings could escape.. . . Many of the most ultra pamphlets and tracts were the prints of foreign presses secretly introduced into the country without the form of a legal entry at Stationers' Hall."
The same activity which filled the religious world, was found also in scientific directions and Dr. Harvey's discovery of the circulation of the blood, and Napier's introduction of logarithms, made a new era for both medicine and mathematics.
That every pulse of this new tide was felt in the castle at Lempingham is very evident, in all Anne Bradstreet's work. The busy steward found time for study and his daughter shared it, and when he revolted against the incessant round of cares and for a time resigned the position, the leisure gained was devoted to the same ends. The family removed to Boston in Lincolnshire, and there an acquaintance was formed which had permanent influence on the minds of all.
Here dwelt the Rev. John Cotton, vicar of the parish and already obnoxious to the Bishops.
No man among the Nonconformists had had more brilliant reputation before the necessity of differing came upon him, and his personal influence was something phenomenal. To the girl whose sensitive, eager mind reached out to every thing high and noble he must have seemed of even rarer stuff than to-day we know him to have been.
At thirteen he had entered Emmanuel College at Cambridge, and adding distinction to distinction had come at last to be dean of the college to which he belonged. His knowledge of Greek was minute and thorough, and he conversed with ease in either Latin or Hebrew. As a pulpit orator he was famous, and crowds thronged the ancient church of St. Mary in Cambridge whenever he preached. Here he gave them "the sort of sermons then in fashion—learned, ornate, pompous, bristling with epigrams, stuffed with conceits, all set off dramatically by posture, gesture and voice."
The year in which Anne Dudley was born, had completed the change which had been slowly working in him and which Tyler describes in his vivid pages on the theological writers of New England:
"His religious character had been deepening into Puritanism. He had come to view his own preaching as frivolous, Sadducean, pagan." He decided to preach one sermon which would show what changes had come, and the announcement of his intention brought together the usual throng of under-graduates, fellows and professors who looked for the usual entertainment. Never was a crowd more deceived. "In preparing once more to preach to this congregation of worldly and witty folk, he had resolved to give them a sermon intended to exhibit Jesus Christ rather than John Cotton. This he did. His hearers were astonished, disgusted. Not a murmur of applause greeted the several stages of his discourse as before. They pulled their shovel caps down over their faces, folded their arms, and sat it out sullenly, amazed that the promising John Cotton had turned lunatic or Puritan."
Nearly twenty years passed before his energies were transferred to New England, but the ending of his university career by no means hampered his work elsewhere. As vicar of St. Botolphs at Boston his influence deepened with every year, and he grew steadily in knowledge about the Bible, and in the science of God and man as seen through the dim goggles of John Calvin.
His power as a preacher was something tremendous, but he remained undisturbed until the reign of James had ended and the "fatal eye of Bishop Laud" fell upon him. "It was in 1633 that Laud became primate of England; which meant, among other things, that nowhere within the rim of that imperial island was there to be peace or safety any longer for John Cotton. Some of his friends in high station tried to use persuasive words with the archbishop on his behalf, but the archbishop brushed aside their words with an insupportable scorn. The Earl of Dorset sent a message to Cotton, that if he had only been guilty of drunkenness or adultery, or any such minor ministerial offence, his pardon could have been had; but since his crime was Puritanism, he must flee for his life. So, for his life he fled, dodging his pursuers; and finally slipping out of England, after innumerable perils, like a hunted felon; landing in Boston in September, 1633."
Long before this crisis had come, Thomas Dudley had been recalled by the Earl of Lincoln, who found it impossible to dispense with his services, and the busy life began again. Whether Anne missed the constant excitement the strenuous spiritual life enforced on all who made part of John Cotton's congregation, there is no record, but one may infer from a passage in her diary that a reaction had set in, and that youth asserted itself.
"But as I grew up to bee about fourteen or fifteen I found my heart more carnall and sitting loose from God, vanity and the follys of youth take hold of me.
"About sixteen, the Lord layd his hand sore upon me and smott mee with the small-pox. When I was in my affliction, I besought the Lord, and confessed my Pride and Vanity and he was entreated of me, and again restored me. But I rendered not to him according to ye benefit received."
Here is the only hint as to personal appearance. "Pride and Vanity," are more or less associated with a fair countenance, and though no record gives slightest detail as to form or feature, there is every reason to suppose that the event, very near at hand, which altered every prospect in life, was influenced in degree, at least, by considerations slighted in later years, but having full weight with both. That Thomas Dudley was a "very personable man," we know, and there are hints that his daughter resembled him, though it was against the spirit of the time to record mere accidents of coloring or shape. But Anne's future husband was a strikingly handsome man, not likely to ignore such advantages in the wife he chose, and we may think of her as slender and dark, with heavy hair and the clear, thoughtful eyes, which may be seen in the potrait of Paul Dudley to-day. There were few of what we consider the typical Englishmen among these Puritan soldiers and gentry. Then, as now, the reformer and liberal was not likely to be of the warm, headlong Saxon type, fair-haired, blue-eyed, and open to every suggestion of pleasure loving temperament. It was the dark-haired men of the few districts who made up Cromwell's regiment of Ironsides, and who from what Galton calls, "their atrabilious and sour temperament," were likely to become extremists, and such Puritan portraits as remain to us, have most of them these characteristics. The English type of face altered steadily for many generations, and the Englishmen of the eighteenth century had little kinship with the race reproduced in Holbein's portraits, which show usually, "high cheek-bones, long upper lips, thin eyebrows, and lank, dark hair. It would be impossible ... for the majority of modern Englishmen so to dress themselves and clip and arrange their hair, as to look like the majority of these portraits."
The type was perpetuated in New England, where for a hundred years, there was not the slightest admixture of foreign blood, increased delicacy with each generation setting it farther and farther apart from the always grosser and coarser type in Old England. Puritan abstinence had much to do with this, though even for them, heavy feeding, as compared with any modern standard was the rule, its results being found in the diaries of what they recorded and believed to be spiritual conflicts. Then, as now, dyspepsia often posed as a delicately susceptible temperament, and the "pasty" of venison or game, fulfilled the same office as the pie into which it degenerated, and which is one of the most firmly established of American institutions. Then, as occasionally even to day, indigestion counted as "a hiding of the Lord's face," and a bilious attack as "the hand of the Lord laid heavily on one for reproof and correction." Such "reproof and correction" would often follow if the breakfasts of the Earl of Lincoln and his household were of the same order as those of the Earl of Northumberland, in whose house "the family rose at six and took breakfast at seven. My Lord and Lady sat down to a repast of two pieces of salted fish, and half a dozen of red herrings, with four fresh ones, or a dish of sprats and a quart of beer and the same measure of wine ... At other seasons, half a chine of mutton or of boiled beef, graced the board. Capons at two-pence apiece and plovers (at Christmas), were deemed too good for any digestion that was not carried on in a noble stomach."
With the dropping of fasts and meager days, fish was seldom used, and the Sunday morning breakfast of Queen Elizabeth and her retinue in one of her "progresses" through the country, for which three oxen and one hundred and forty geese were furnished, became the standard, which did not alter for many generations. A diet more utterly unsuited to the child who passed from one fit of illness to another, could hardly be imagined, and the gloom discoverable in portions of her work was as certainly dyspepsia as she imagined it to be "the motion and power of ye Adversary." Winthrop had encountered the same difficulty and with his usual insight and common sense, wrote in his private dairy fifteen years before he left England, "Sep: 8, 1612. ffinding that the variety of meates drawes me on to eate more than standeth with my healthe I have resolved not to eat of more than two dishes at any one meale, whither fish, fleshe, fowle or fruite or whitt-meats, etc; whither at home or abroade; the lord give me care and abilitie to perform it." Evidently the flesh rebelled, for later he writes: "Idlenesse and gluttonie are the two maine pillars of the flesh his kingdome," but he conquered finally, both he and Simon Bradstreet being singularly abstinent.
Her first sixteen years of life were, for Anne Dudley, filled with the intensest mental and spiritual activity—hampered and always in leading strings, but even so, an incredible advance on anything that had been the portion of women for generations. Then came, for the young girl, a change not wholly unexpected, yet destined to alter every plan, and uproot every early association. But to the memories of that loved early life she held with an English tenacity, not altered by transplanting, that is seen to-day in countless New Englanders, whose English blood is of as pure a strain as any to be found in the old home across the sea.
Though the long engagement which Mr. Ruskin demands as a necessity in lessening some of the present complications of the marriage question may not have been the fortune of Simon and Anne Bradstreet, it is certain that few couples have ever had better opportunity for real knowledge of one another's peculiarities and habits of thought. Circumstances placed them under the same roof for years before marriage, and it would have been impossible to preserve any illusions, while every weakness as well as every virtue had fullest opportunity for disclosure. There is no hint of other suitors, nor detail of the wooing, but the portrait of Governor Bradstreet, still to be seen in the Senate Chamber of the Massachusetts State House, shows a face that even in middle life, the time at which the portrait was painted, held an ardor, that at twenty-five must have made him irresistible. It is the head of Cavalier rather than Roundhead—the full though delicately curved lips and every line in the noble face showing an eager, passionate, pleasure-loving temperament. But the broad, benignant forehead, the clear, dark eyes, the firm, well-cut nose, hold strength as well as sweetness, and prepare one for the reputation which the old Colonial records give him. The high breeding, the atmosphere of the whole figure, comes from a marvellously well- balanced nature, as well as from birth and training. There is a sense of the keenest life and vigor, both mental and physical, and despite the Puritan garb, does not hide the man of whom his wife might have written with Mrs. Hutchinson: "To sum up, therefore, all that can be said of his outward frame and disposition, we must truly conclude that it was a very handsome and well-furnished lodging prepared for the reception of that prince who, in the administration of all excellent virtues, reigned there a while, till he was called back to the palace of the universal emperor."
Simon Bradstreet's father, "born of a wealthy family in Suffolk, was one of the first fellows of Emanuel College, and highly esteemed by persons distinguished for learning." In 1603 he was minister at Horbling in Lincolnshire, but was never anything but a nonconformist to the Church of England. Here in 1603 Simon Bradstreet was born, and until fourteen years old was educated in the grammar school of that place, till the death of his father made some change necessary. John Cotton was the mutual friend of both Dudley and the elder Bradstreet, and Dudley's interest in the son may have arisen from this fact. However this may be, he was taken at fifteen into the Earl of Lincoln's household, and trained to the duties of a steward by Dudley himself. Anne being then a child of nine years old, and probably looking up to him with the devotion that was shared by her older brother, then eleven and always the friend and ally of the future governor.
His capacity was so marked that Dr. Preston, another family friend and a noted Nonconformist, interested himself in his further education, and succeeded in entering him at Emanuel College, Cambridge, in the position of governor to the young Lord Rich, son of the Earl of Warwick. For some reason the young nobleman failed to come to college and Bradstreet's time was devoted to a brother of the Earl of Lincoln, who evidently shared the love of idleness and dissipation that had marked his grandfather's career. It was all pleasant and all eminently unprofitable, Bradstreet wrote in later years, but he accomplished sufficient study to secure his bachelor's degree in 1620. Four years later, while holding the position of steward to the Earl of Lincoln, given him by Dudley on the temporary removal to Boston, that of Master of Arts was bestowed upon him, making it plain that his love of study had continued. With the recall of Dudley, he became steward to the countess of Warwick, which position he held at the time of his marriage in 1628.
It was in this year that Anne, just before her marriage recorded, when the affliction had passed: "About 16, the Lord layde his hand sore upon me and smott me with the small-pox." It is curious that the woman whose life in many points most resembles her own—Mrs. Lucy Hutchinson—should have had precisely the same experience, writing of herself in the "Memoirs of Colonel Hutchinson": "That day that the friends on both sides met to conclude the marriage, she fell sick of the small-pox, which was in many ways a great trial upon him. First, her life was in almost desperate hazard, and then the disease, for the present, made her the most deformed person that could be seen, for a great while after she recovered; yet he was nothing troubled at it, but married her as soon as she was able to quit the chamber, when the priest and all that saw her were affrighted to look on her; but God recompensed his justice and constancy by restoring her, though she was longer than ordinary before she recovered to be as well as before."
Whether disease or treatment held the greater terror, it would be hard to say. Modern medical science has devised many alleviations, and often restores a patient without spot or blemish. But to have lived at all in that day evidenced extraordinary vitality. Cleanliness was unknown, water being looked upon as deadly poison whether taken internally or applied externally. Covered with blankets, every window tightly sealed, and the moaning cry for water answered by a little hot ale or tincture of bitter herbs, nature often gave up the useless struggle and released the tortured and delirious wretch. The means of cure left the constitution irretrievably weakened if not hopelessly ruined, and the approach of the disease was looked upon with affright and regarded usually as a special visitation of the wrath of God.
That Anne Dudley so viewed it is evident from the passage in her diary, already quoted; that the Lord "smott" her, was unquestioned, and she cast about in her girlish mind for the shadow of the sin that had brought such judgment, making solemn resolutions, not only against any further indulgence in "Pride and Vanity," but all other offences, deciding that self-abnegation was the only course, and possibly even beginning her convalescence with a feeling that love itself should be put aside, and all her heart be "sett upon God." But Simon Bradstreet waited, like Colonel Hutchinson, only till "she was fit to leave her chamber," and whether "affrighted" or not, the marriage was consummated early in 1628.
Of heavier, stouter frame than Colonel Hutchinson, and of a far more vigorous constitution, the two men had much in common. The forces that moulded and influenced the one, were equally potent with the other. The best that the time had to give entered into both, and though Hutchinson's name and life are better known, it is rather because of the beauty and power with which his story was told, by a wife who worshipped him, than because of actually greater desert. But the first rush of free thought ennobled many men who in the old chains would have lived lives with nothing in them worth noting, and names full of meaning are on every page of the story of the time.
We have seen how the whole ideal of daily life had altered, as the Puritan element gained ground, and the influence affected the thought and life—even the speech of their opponents. A writer on English literature remarks: "In one sense, the reign of James is the most religious part of our history; for religion was then fashionable. The forms of state, the king's speeches, the debates in parliament and the current literature, were filled with quotations from Scripture and quaint allusions to sacred things."
Even the soldier studied divinity, and Colonel Hutchinson, after his "fourteen months various exercise of his mind, in the pursuit of his love, being now at rest in the enjoyment of his wife," thought it the most natural thing in the world to make "an entrance upon the study of school divinity, wherein his father was the most eminent scholar of any gentleman in England and had a most choice library.... Having therefore gotten into the house with him an excellent scholar in that kind of learning, he for two years made it the whole employment of his time."
Much of such learning Simon Bradstreet had taken in unconsciously in the constant discussions about his father's table, as well as in the university alive to every slightest change in doctrine, where freer but fully as interested talk went on. Puritanism had as yet acquired little of the bitterness and rigor born of persecution, but meant simply emancipated thought, seeking something better than it had known, but still claiming all the good the world held for it. Milton is the ideal Puritan of the time, and something of the influences that surrounded his youth were in the home of every well-born Puritan. Even much farther down in the social scale, a portrait remains of a London house mother, which may stand as that of many, whose sons and daughters passed over at last to the new world, hopeless of any quiet or peace in the old. It is a turner in Eastcheap, Nehemiah Wallington, who writes of his mother: "She was very loving and obedient to her parents, loving and kind to her husband, very tender-hearted to her children, loving all that were godly, much misliking the wicked and profane. She was a pattern of sobriety unto many, very seldom was seen abroad except at church; when others recreated themselves at holidays and other times, she would take her needle-work and say—'here is my recreation'.... God had given her a very pregnant wit and an excellent memory. She was very ripe and perfect in all stories of the Bible, likewise in all the stories of the Martyrs, and could readily turn to them; she was also perfect and well seen in the English Chronicles, and in the descents of the Kings of England. She lived in holy wedlock with her husband twenty years, wanting but four days."
If the influence of the new thought was so potent with a class who in the Tudor days had made up the London mob, and whose signature, on the rare occasions when anybody wanted it, had been a mark, the middle class, including professional men, felt it infinitely more. In the early training with many, as with Milton's father, music was a passion; there was nothing illiberal or narrow. In Milton's case he writes: "My father destined me while yet a little boy to the study of humane letters; which I seized with such eagerness that from the twelth year of my age I scarcely ever went from my lessons to my bed before midnight." "To the Greek, Latin and Hebrew learned at school the scrivener advised him to add Italian and French. Nor were English letters neglected. Spencer gave the earliest turn to the boy's poetic genius. In spite of the war between playwright and precisian, a Puritan youth could still in Milton's days avow his love of the stage, 'if Jonson's learned sock be on, or sweetest Shakspeare Fancy's child, warble his native wood-notes wild' and gather from the 'masques and antique pageantry,' of the court revels, hints for his own 'Comus' and 'Arcades'."
Simon Bradstreet's year at Cambridge probably held much the same experience, and if a narrowing faith in time taught him to write it down as "all unprofitable," there is no doubt that it helped to broaden his nature and establish the Catholic-mindedness which in later years, in spite of every influence against it, was one of his distinguishing characteristics. In the meantime he was a delightful companion. Cut off by his principles from much that passed as enjoyment, hating the unbridled licentiousness, the "ornate beastliness," of the Stuart reign, he like others of the same faith took refuge in intellectual pleasures. Like Colonel Hutchinson—and this portrait, contrary in all points to the preconceived idea, is a typical one—he "could dance admirably well, but neither in youth nor riper years made any practice of it; he had skill in fencing such as became a gentleman; he had great love to music and often diverted himself with a viol, on which he played masterly; he had an exact ear and judgment in other music; he shot excellently in bows and guns, and much used them for his exercise; he had great judgment in paintings, graving, sculpture, and all liberal arts, and had many curiosities of value in all kinds; he took great delight in perspective glasses, and, for his other rarities was not so much affected with the antiquity as the merit of the work; he took much pleasure in improvement of grounds, in planting groves and walks and fruit trees, in opening springs, and making fish-ponds."
All these tastes were almost indispensable to anyone filling the position which, alike, Dudley and Bradstreet held. "Steward" then, had a very different meaning from any associated with it now, and great estates were left practically in the hands of managers while the owners busied themselves in other directions, relying upon the good taste as well as the financial ability of the men who, as a rule, proved more than faithful to the trust.
The first two years of marriage were passed in England, and held the last genuine social life and intellectual development that Anne Bradstreet was to enjoy. The love of learning was not lost in the transition from one country to another, but it took on more and more a theological bias, and embodied itself chiefly in sermons and interminable doctrinal discussions. Even before the marriage, Dudley had decided to join the New England colony, but Simon Bradstreet hesitated and lingered, till forced to a decision by the increasing shadow of persecution. Had they remained in England, there is little doubt that Anne Bradstreet's mind, sensitively alive as it was to every fine influence, would have developed in a far different direction to that which it finally took. The directness and joyous life of the Elizabethan literature had given place to the euphuistic school, and as the Puritans put aside one author after another as "not making for godliness," the strained style, the quirks and conceits of men like Quarles and Withers came to represent the highest type of literary effort. But no author had the influence of Du Bartas, whose poems had been translated by Joshua Sylvester in 1605, under the title of "Du Bartas. His Duuine Weekes and Workes, with a Complete Collection of all the other most delightfull Workes, Translated and Written by ye famous Philomusus, Josvah Sylvester, Gent." He in turn was an imitator; a French euphuist, whose work simply followed and patterned after that of Ronsard, whose popularity for a time had convinced France that no other poet had been before him, and that no successor could approach his power. He chose to study classical models rather than nature or life, and his most formidable poem, merely a beginning of some five or six thousand verses on "the race of French kings, descended from Francion, a child of Hector and a Trojan by birth," ended prematurely on the death of Charles IX, but served as a model for a generation of imitators.
What spell lay in the involved and interminable pages the modern reader cannot decide, but Milton studied them, and affirmed that they had aided in forming his style, and Spenser wrote of him—
"And after thee, (du Bellay) 'gins Barras hie to raise His Heavenly muse, th' Almighty to adore. Live, happy spirits! th' honor of your name, And fill the world with never dying fame."
Dryden, too, shared the infatuation, and in the Epistle Dedicatory to "The Spanish Friar," wrote: "I remember when I was a boy, I thought inimitable Spenser a mean poet, in comparison of Sylvester's 'Dubartas,' and was wrapt into an ecstasy when I read these lines:
"'Now when the winter's keener breath began To crystallize the Baltic ocean; To glaze the lakes, to bridle up the floods, And periwig with snow (wool) the bald-pate woods.'
"I am much deceived if this be not abominable fustian." Van Lann stigmatizes this poem, Le Semaine ou Creation du Monde, as "the marriage-register of science and verse, written by a Gascon Moses, who, to the minuteness of a Walt Whitman and the unction of a parish-clerk, added an occasional dignity superior to anything attained by the abortive epic of his master."
But he had some subtle, and to the nineteenth century mind, inscrutable charm. Poets studied him and Anne Bradstreet did more than study; she absorbed them, till such originality as had been her portion perished under the weight. In later years she disclaimed the charge of having copied from him, but the infection was too thorough not to remain, and the assimilation had been so perfect that imitation was unconscious. There was everything in the life of Du Bartas to appeal to her imagination as well as her sympathy, and with her minute knowledge of history she relished his detail while reverencing his character. For Du Bartas was a French Puritan, holding the same religious views as Henry IV, before he became King of France, his strong religious nature appealing to every English reader. Born in 1544, of noble parents, and brought up, according to Michaud in the Biographic Universelle, to the profession of arms, he distinguished himself as a soldier and negotiater. Attached to the person of Prince Henry "in the capacity of gentleman in ordinary of his bedchamber, he was successfully employed by him on missions to Denmark, Scotland and England. He was at the battle of Ivry and celebrated in song the victory which he had helped to gain. He died four months after, in July, 1559, at the age of forty-six, in consequence of some wounds which had been badly healed. He passed all the leisure which his duties left him, at his chateau du Bartas. It was there that he composed his long and numerous poems.... His principal poem, La Semaine, went through more than thirty editions in less than six years, and was translated into Latin, Italian, Spanish, English, German and Dutch."
The influence was an unfortunate one. Nature had already been set aside so thoroughly that, as with Dryden, Spenser was regarded as common-place and even puerile, and the record of real life or thought as no part of a poet's office. Such power of observation as Anne Bradstreet had was discouraged in the beginning, and though later it asserted itself in slight degree, her early work shows no trace of originality, being, as we are soon to see, merely a rhymed paraphrase of her reading. That she wrote verse, not included in any edition of her poems, we know, the earliest date assigned there being 1632, but the time she had dreaded was at hand, and books and study went the way of many other pleasant things.
With the dread must have mingled a certain thrill of hope and expectation common to every thinking man and woman who in that seventeenth century looked to the New World to redress every wrong of the Old, and who watched every movement of the little band that in Holland waited, for light on the doubtful and beclouded future.
The story of the first settlement needs no repetition here. The years in Holland had knit the little band together more strongly and lastingly than proved to be the case with any future company, their minister, John Robinson, having infused his own intense and self-abnegating nature into every one. That the Virginian colonies had suffered incredibly they knew, but it had no power to dissuade them. "We are well weaned," John Robinson wrote, "from the delicate milk of the mother-country, and inured to the difficulties of a strange land; the people are industrious and frugal. We are knit together as a body in a most sacred covenant of the Lord, of the violation whereof we make great conscience, and by virtue whereof, we hold ourselves strictly tied to all care of each other's good and of the whole. It is not with us, as with men whom small things can discourage."
By 1629, the worst difficulties had been overcome, and the struggle for mere existence had ended. The little colony, made up chiefly of hard working men, had passed through every phase of suffering. Sickness and famine had done their worst. The settlers were thoroughly acclimated, and as they prospered, more and more the eyes of Puritan England turned toward them, with a longing for the same freedom. Laud's hand was heavy and growing heavier, and as privileges lessened, and one after another found fine, or pillory, or banishment awaiting every expression of thought, the eagerness grew and intensified. As yet there had been no separation from the Mother Church. It had simply "divided into two great parties, the Prelatical or Hierarchical, headed by Laud, and the Nonconformist or Puritan." For the latter, Calvin had become the sole authority, and even as early as 1603, their preachers made up more than a ninth of the clergy. The points of disagreement increased steadily, each fresh severity from the Prelatical party being met by determined resistance, and a stubborn resolution never to yield an inch of the new convictions. No clearer presentation of the case is to be found anywhere than in Mason's life of Milton, the poet's life being absolutely contemporaneous with the cause, and his own experience came to be that of hundreds. From his childhood he had been set apart for the ministry, but he was as he wrote in later life, with a bitterness he never lost, "Church-outed by the prelates." "Coming to some maturity of years, and perceiving what tyranny had invaded in the Church, that he who would take orders, must subscribe slave, and take an oath withal, which, unless he took with a conscience that would retch, he must either straight perjure or split his faith, I thought it better to prefer a blameless silence before the sacred office of speaking, bought and begun with servitude and forswearing."
Each year of the increasing complications found a larger body enrolled on his side, and with 1629, Simon Bradstreet resigned any hope of life in England, and cast in his fortunes once for all with the projected colony. In dissolving his third Parliament Charles had granted the charter for the Massachusetts Colony, and seizing upon this as a "Providential call," the Puritans at once circulated "conclusions" among gentry and traders, and full descriptions of Massachusetts. Already many capitalists deemed encouragement of the emigration an excellent speculation, but the prospective emigrants had no mind to be ruled by a commercial company at home, and at last, after many deliberations, the old company was dissolved; the officers resigned and their places were filled by persons who proposed to emigrate.
Two days before this change twelve gentlemen met at Cambridge and "pledged themselves to each other to embark for New England with their families for a permanent residence."
"Provided always, that, before the last of September next, the whole government, together with the patent for the said plantation, be first legally transferred." Dudley's name was one of the twelve, and at another meeting in October he was also present, with John Winthrop, who was shortly chosen governor. A day or two later, Dudley was made assistant governor, and in the early spring of 1630, but a few days before sailing Simon Bradstreet was elected to the same office in the place of Mr. Thomas Goffe. One place of trust after another was filled by the two men, whose history henceforward is that of New England. Dudley being very shortly made "undertaker," that is, to be one of those having "the sole managinge of the joynt stock, wth all things incydent theronto, for the space of 7 years."
Even for the sternest enthusiasts, the departure seemed a banishment, though Winthrop spoke the mind of all when he wrote, "I shall call that my country where I may most glorify God and enjoy the presence of my dearest friends."
For him the dearest were left behind for a time, and in all literature there is no tenderer letter than that in which his last words go to the wife whom he loved with all the strength of his nature, and the parting from whom, was the deepest proof that could have been of his loyalty to the cause he had made his own.
As he wrote the Arbella was riding at anchor at Cowes, waiting for favorable winds. Some of the party had gone on shore, and all longed to end these last hours of waiting which simply prolonged a pain that even the most determined and resolute among them, felt to be almost intolerable. Many messages went back carried by friends who lingered at Cowes for the last look at the vanishing sails, but none better worth record than the words which hold the man's deep and tender soul.
"And now, my sweet soul, I must once again take my last farewell of thee in old England. It goeth very near to my heart to leave thee, but I know to whom I have committed thee, even to Him, who loves thee much better than any husband can; who hath taken account of the hairs of thy head, and puts all thy tears in his bottle; who can, and (if it be for his glory) will, bring us together again with peace and comfort. Oh, how it refresheth my heart to think, that I shall yet again see thy sweet face in the land of the living; that lovely countenance that I have so much delighted in, and beheld with so great content! I have hitherto been so taken up with business, as I could seldom look back to my former happiness; but now when I shall be at some leisure, I shall not avoid the remembrance of thee, nor the grief for thy absence. Thou hast thy share with me, but I hope the course we have agreed upon will be some ease to us both. Mondays and Fridays at five o'clock at night we shall meet in spirit till we meet in person. Yet if all these hopes should fail, blessed be our God, that we are assured we shall meet one day, if not as husband and wife, yet in a better condition. Let that stay and comfort thine heart. Neither can the sea drown thy husband, nor enemies destroy, nor any adversity deprive thee of thy husband or children. Therefore I will only take thee now and my sweet children in mine arms, and kiss and embrace you all, and so leave you with God. Farewell, farewell. I bless you all in the name of the Lord Jesus."
"Farewell, dear England!" burst from the little group on that 8th of April, 1630, when at last, a favorable wind bore them out to sea, and Anne Bradstreet's voice had part in that cry of pain and longing, as the shores grew dim and "home faded from their sight. But one comfort or healing remained for them, in the faith that had been with all from the beginning, one record being for them and the host who preceded and followed their flight. So they left that goodly and pleasant city which had been their resting place; ... but they knew they were pilgrims and looked not much on those things, but lift up their eyes to the heavens, their dearest country, and quieted their spirits."
It is perhaps the fault of the seventeenth century and its firm belief that a woman's office was simply to wait such action as man might choose to take, that no woman's record remains of the long voyage or the first impressions of the new country.
For the most of them writing was by no means a familiar task, but this could not be said of the women on board the Arbella, who had known the highest cultivation that the time afforded. But poor Anne Bradstreet's young "heart rose," to such a height that utterance may have been quite stifled, and as her own family were all with her, there was less need of any chronicle.
For all details, therefore, we are forced to depend on the journal kept by Governor Winthrop, who busied himself not only with this, making the first entry on that Easter Monday which found them riding at anchor at Cowes, but with another quite as characteristic piece of work. A crowded storm-tossed ship, is hardly a point to which one looks for any sustained or fine literary composition, but the little treatise, "A Model of Christian Charity," the fruit of long and silent musing on the new life awaiting them, holds the highest thought of the best among them, and was undoubtedly read with the profoundest feeling and admiration, as it took shape in the author's hands. There were indications even in the first fervor of the embarkation, that even here some among them thought "every man upon his own," while greater need of unselfishness and self-renunciation had never been before a people. "Only by mutual love and help," and "a grand, patient, self-denial," was there the slightest hope of meeting the demands bound up with the new conditions, and Winthrop wrote—"We must be knit together in this work as one man. We must entertain each other in brotherly affection. We must be willing to abridge ourselves of our superfluities for the supply of others' necessities. We must uphold a familiar commerce together, in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality. We must delight in each other; make others' conditions our own; rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes, our commission and community in the work as members of the same body."
A portion of this body were as closely united as if forming but one family. The lady Arbella, in compliment to whom the ship, which had been first known as The Eagle, had been re-christened, had married Mr. Isaac Johnson, one of the wealthiest members of the party. She was a sister of the Earl of Lincoln who had come to the title in 1619, and whose family had a more intimate connection with the New England settlements than that of any other English nobleman. Her sister Susan had become the wife of John Humfrey, another member of the company, and the close friendship between them and the Dudleys made it practically a family party. Anne Bradstreet had grown up with both sisters, and all occupied themselves in such ways as their cramped quarters would allow. Space was of the narrowest, and if the Governor and his deputies indulged themselves in spreading out papers, there would be small room for less important members of the expedition. But each had the little Geneva Bible carried by every Puritan, and read it with a concentrated eagerness born of the sense that they had just escaped its entire loss, and there were perpetual religious exercises of all varieties, with other more secular ones recorded in the Journal. In the beginning there had been some expectation that several other ships would form part of the expedition, but they were still not in sailing order and thus the first entry records "It was agreed, (it being uncertain when the rest of the fleet would be ready) these four ships should consort together; the Arbella to be Admiral, the Talbot Vice-Admiral, the Ambrose Rear-Admiral, and the Jewel a Captain; and accordingly articles of consortship were drawn between the said captains and masters."
The first week was one of small progress, for contrary winds drove them back persistently and they at last cast anchor before Yarmouth, and with the feeling that some Jonah might be in their midst ordered a fast for Friday, the 2d of April, at which time certain light-minded "landmen, pierced a runlet of strong water, and stole some of it, for which we laid them in bolts all the night, and the next morning the principal was openly whipped, and both kept with bread and water that day."
Nothing further happened till Monday, when excitement was afforded for the younger members of the party at least, as "A maid of Sir Robert Saltonstall fell down at the grating by the cook-room, but the carpenter's man, who unwittingly, occasioned her fall caught hold of her with incredible nimbleness, and saved her; otherwise she had fallen into the hold."
Tuesday, finding that the wind was still against them, the captain drilled the landmen with their muskets, "and such as were good shot among them were enrolled to serve in the ship if occasion should be"; while the smell of powder and the desire, perhaps, for one more hour on English soil, made the occasion for another item: "The lady Arbella and the gentlewomen, and Mr. Johnson and some others went on shore to refresh themselves."
The refreshment was needed even then. Anne Bradstreet was still extremely delicate, never having fully recovered from the effects of the small-pox, and the Lady Arbella's health must have been so also, as it failed steadily through the voyage, giving the sorest anxiety to her husband and every friend on board.
It is evident from an entry in Anne Bradstreet's diary after reaching New England that even the excitement of change and the hope common to all of a happy future, was not strong enough to keep down the despondency which came in part undoubtedly from her weak health. The diary is not her own thoughts or impressions of the new life, but simply bits of religious experience; an autobiography of the phase with which we could most easily dispense. "After a short time I changed my condition and was married, and came into this country, where I found a new world and new manners at which my heart rose. But after I was convinced it was the will of God I submitted to it and joined to the church at Boston."
This rebellion must have been from the beginning, for every inch of English soil was dear to her, but she concealed it so thoroughly, that no one suspected the real grief which she looked upon as rebellion to the will of God. Conservative in thought and training, and with the sense of humor which might have lightened some phases of the new dispensation, almost destroyed by the Puritan faith, which more and more altered the proportions of things, making life only a grim battle with evil, and the days doings of absolute unimportance save as they advanced one toward heaven, she accepted discomfort or hardship with quiet patience.
There must have been unfailing interest, too, in the perpetual chances and changes of the perilous voyage. They had weighed anchor finally on the 8th of April, and were well under way on the morning of the 9th, when their journey seemed suddenly likely to end then and there. The war between Spain and England was still going on, and privateers known as Dunkirkers, were lying in wait before every English harbor. Thus there was reason enough for apprehension, when, "In the morning we descried from the top, eight sail astern of us.... We supposing they might be Dunkirkers, our captain caused the gun room and gun deck to be cleared; all the hammocks were taken down, our ordnance loaded, and our powder chests and fireworks made ready, and our landmen quartered among the seamen, and twenty-five of them appointed for muskets, and every man written down for his quarter.
"The wind continued N. with fair weather, and after noon it calmed, and we still saw those eight ships to stand towards us; having more wind than we, they came up apace, so as our captain and the masters of our consorts were more occasioned to think they might be Dunkirkers, (for we were told at Yarmouth, that there were ten sail of them waiting for us); whereupon we all prepared to fight with them, and took down some cabins which were in the way of our ordnance, and out of every ship were thrown such bed matters as were subject to take fire, and we heaved out our long boats and put up our waste cloths, and drew forth our men and armed them with muskets and other weapons, and instruments for fireworks; and for an experiment our captain shot a ball of wild fire fastened to an arrow out of a cross bow, which burnt in the water a good time. The lady Arbella and the other women and children, were removed into the lower deck, that they might be out of danger. All things being thus fitted, we went to prayer upon the upper deck. It was much to see how cheerful and comfortable all the company appeared; not a woman or child that shewed fear, though all did apprehend the danger to have been great, if things had proved as might well be expected, for there had been eight against four, and the least of the enemy's ships were reported to carry thirty brass pieces; but our trust was in the Lord of Hosts; and the courage of our captain, and his care and diligence did much to encourage us.
"It was now about one of the clock, and the fleet seemed to be within a league of us; therefore our captain, because he would show he was not afraid of them, and that he might see the issue before night should overtake us, tacked about and stood to meet them, and when we came near we perceived them to be our friends— the little Neptune, a ship of some twenty pieces of ordnance, and her two consorts, bound for the Straits, a ship of Flushing, and a Frenchman and three other English ships bound for Canada and Newfoundland. So when we drew near, every ship (as they met) saluted each other, and the musketeers discharged their small shot, and so (God be praised) our fear and danger was turned into mirth and friendly entertainment. Our danger being thus over, we espied two boats on fishing in the channel; so every one of our four ships manned out a skiff, and we bought of them great store of excellent fresh fish of divers sorts."
It is an astonishing fact, that no line in Anne Bradstreet's poems has any reference to this experience which held every alternation of hope and fear, and which must have moved them beyond any other happening of the long voyage. But, inward states, then as afterward, were the only facts that seemed worthy of expression, so far as she personally was concerned, and they were all keyed to a pitch which made danger even welcome, as a test of endurance and genuine purpose. But we can fancy the dismay of every house-wife as the limited supply of "bed matters," went the way of many other things "subject to take fire." Necessarily the household goods of each had been reduced to the very lowest terms, and as the precious rugs and blankets sunk slowly, or for a time defied the waves and were tossed from crest to crest, we may be sure that the heart of every woman, in the end at least, desired sorely that rescue might be attempted. Sheets had been dispensed with, to avoid the accumulation of soiled linen, for the washing of which no facilities could be provided, and Winthrop wrote of his boys to his wife in one of his last letters, written as they rode at anchor before Cowes, "They lie both with me, and sleep as soundly in a rug (for we use no sheets here) as ever they did at Groton; and so I do myself, (I praise God)."
Among minor trials this was not the least, for the comfort we associate with English homes, had developed, under the Puritan love of home, to a degree that even in the best days of the Elizabethan time was utterly unknown. The faith which demanded absolute purity of life, included the beginning of that cleanliness which is "next to godliness," if not an inherent part of godliness itself, and fine linen on bed and table had become more and more a necessity. The dainty, exquisite neatness that in the past has been inseparable from the idea of New England, began with these Puritan dames, who set their floating home in such order as they could, and who seized the last opportunity at Yarmouth of going on shore, not only for refreshment, but to wash neckbands and other small adornments, which waited two months for any further treatment of this nature.
There were many resources, not only in needlework and the necessary routine of each day, but in each other. The two daughters of Sir Robert Saltonstall, Mrs. Phillips the minister's wife, the wives of Nowell, Coddington and others made up the group of gentlewomen who dined with Lady Arbella in "the great cabin," the greatness of which will be realized when the reader reflects that the ship was but three hundred and fifty tons burden and could carry aside from the fifty or so sailors, but thirty passengers, among whom were numbered various discreet and reputable "young gentlemen" who, as Winthrop wrote, "behave themselves well, and are conformable to all good orders," one or two of whom so utilized their leisure that the landing found them ready for the marriage bells that even Puritan asceticism still allowed to be rung.
Disaster waited upon them, even when fairly under way. Winthrop, whose family affection was intense, and whose only solace in parting with his wife had been, that a greatly loved older son, as well as two younger ones were his companions, had a sore disappointment, entered in the journal, with little comment on its personal bearings. "The day we set sail from Cowes, my son Henry Winthrop went on shore with one of my servants, to fetch an ox and ten wethers, which he had provided for our ship, and there went on shore with him Mr. Pelham and one of his servants. They sent the cattle aboard, but returned not themselves. About three days after my servant and a servant of Mr. Pelham's came to us in Yarmouth, and told us they were all coming to us in a boat the day before, but the wind was so strong against them as they were forced on shore in the night, and the two servants came to Yarmouth by land, and so came on shipboard, but my son and Mr. Pelham (we heard) went back to the Cowes and so to Hampton. We expected them three or four days after, but they came not to us, so we have left them behind, and suppose they will come after in Mr. Goffe's ships. We were very sorry they had put themselves upon such inconvenience when they were so well accommodated in our ship."
A fresh gale on the day of this entry encouraged them all; they passed the perils of Scilly and looked for no further delay when a fresh annoyance was encountered which, for the moment, held for the women at least, something of the terror of their meeting with supposed "Dunkirkers."
"About eight in the morning, ... standing to the W. S. W. we met two small ships, which falling in among us, and the Admiral coming under our lee, we let him pass, but the Jewel and Ambrose, perceiving the other to be a Brazilman, and to take the wind of us, shot at them, and made them stop and fall after us, and sent a skiff aboard them to know what they were. Our captain, fearing lest some mistake might arise, and lest they should take them for enemies which were friends, and so, through the unruliness of the mariners some wrong might be done them, caused his skiff to be heaved out, and sent Mr. Graves, one of his mates and our pilot (a discreet man) to see how things were, who returned soon after, and brought with him the master of one of the ships, and Mr. Lowe and Mr. Hurlston. When they were come aboard to us, they agreed to send for the captain, who came and showed his commission from the Prince of Orange. In conclusion he proved to be a Dutchmen, and his a man of war from Flushing, and the other ship was a prize he had taken, laden with sugar and tobacco; so we sent them aboard their ships again, and held on our course. In this time (which hindered us five or six leagues) the Jewel and the Ambrose came foul of each other, so as we much feared the issue, but, through God's mercy, they came well off again, only the Jewel had her foresail torn, and one of her anchors broken. This occasion and the sickness of our minister and people, put us all out of order this day, so as we could have no sermons."
No words hold greater force of discomfort and deprivation than that one line, "so as we could have no sermons," for the capacity for this form of "temperate entertainment," had increased in such ratio, that the people sat spell bound, four hours at a stretch, both hearers and speaker being equally absorbed. Winthrop had written of himself at eighteen, in his "Christain Experience": "I had an insatiable thirst after the word of God; and could not misse a good sermon, though many miles off, especially of such as did search deep into the conscience," and to miss this refreshment even for a day, seemed just so much loss of the needed spiritual food.
But the wind, which blew "a stiffe gale," had no respect of persons, and all were groaning together till the afternoon of the next day, when a device occurred to some inventive mind, possibly that of Mistress Bradstreet herself, which was immediately carried out. "Our children and others that were sick and lay groaning in the cabins, we fetched out, and having stretched a rope from the steerage to the main mast, we made them stand, some of one side and some of the other, and sway it up and down till they were warm, and by this means they soon grew well and merry."
The plan worked well, and three days later, when the wind which had quieted somewhat, again blew a "stiffe gale," he was able to write: "This day the ship heaved and set more than before, yet we had but few sick, and of these such as came up upon the deck and stirred themselves, were presently well again; therefore our captain set our children and young men, to some harmless exercises, which the seamen were very active in, and did our people much good, though they would sometimes play the wags with them."
Wind and rain, rising often till the one was a gale and the other torrents, gave them small rest in that first week. The fish they had secured at Yarmouth returned to their own element, Winthrop mourning them as he wrote: "The storm was so great as it split our foresail and tore it in pieces, and a knot of the sea washed our tub overboard, wherein our fish was a-watering." The children had become good sailers, and only those were sick, who, like "the women kept under hatches." The suffering from cold was constant, and for a fortnight extreme, the Journal reading: "I wish, therefore, that all such as shall pass this way in the spring have care to provide warm clothing; for nothing breeds more trouble and danger of sickness, in this season, than cold."
From day to day the little fleet exchanged signals, and now and then, when calm enough the masters of the various ships dined in the round-house of the Arbella, and exchanged news, as that, "all their people were in health, but one of their cows was dead." Two ships in the distance on the 24th of April, disturbed them for a time, but they proved to be friends, who saluted and "conferred together so long, till his Vice Admiral was becalmed by our sails, and we were foul one of another, but there being little wind and the sea calm, we kept them asunder with oars, etc., till they heaved out their boat, and so towed their ship away. They told us for certain, that the king of France had set out six of his own ships to recover the fort from them."
Here was matter for talk among the travellers, whose interest in all that touched their future heightened day by day, and the item, with its troublous implications may have been the foundation of one of the numerous fasts recorded.
May brought no suggestion of any quiet, though three weeks out, they had made but three hundred leagues, and the month opened with "a very great tempest all the night, with fierce showers of rain intermixed, and very cold.... Yet through God's mercy, we were very comfortable and few or none sick, but had opportunity to keep the Sabbath, and Mr. Phillips preached twice that day."
Discipline was of the sharpest, the Puritan temper brooking no infractions of law and order. There were uneasy and turbulent spirits both among the crew and passengers, and in the beginning swift judgment fell upon two young men, who, "falling at odds and fighting, contrary to the orders which we had published and set up in the ship, were adjudged to walk upon the deck till night, with their hands bound behind them, which accordingly was executed; and another man for using contemptuous speeches in our presence, was laid in bolts till he submitted himself and promised open confession of his offence."
Impressive as this undoubtedly proved to the "children and youth thereby admonished," a still greater sensation was felt among them on the discovery that "a servant of one of our company had bargained with a child to sell him a box worth three-pence for three biscuits a day all the voyage, and had received about forty and had sold them and many more to some other servants. We caused his hands to be tied up to a bar, and hanged a basket with stones about his neck, and so he stood two hours."
Other fights are recorded, the cause a very evident one. "We observed it a common fault in our young people that they gave themselves to drink hot waters very immoderately."
Brandy then as now was looked upon as a specific for sea-sickness, and "a maid servant in the ship, being stomach sick, drank so much strong water, that she was senseless, and had near killed herself."
The constant cold and rain, the monotonous food, which before port was reached had occasioned many cases of scurvy and reduced the strength of all, was excuse enough for the occasional lapse into overindulgence which occurred, but the long penance was nearly ended. On the 8th of June Mount Mansell, now Mt. Desert, was passed, an enchanting sight for the sea-sad eyes of the travellers. A "handsome gale" drove them swiftly on, and we may know with what interest they crowded the decks and gazed upon these first glimpses of the new home. As they sailed, keeping well in to shore, and making the new features of hill and meadow and unfamiliar trees, Winthrop wrote: "We had now fair sunshine weather, and so pleasant a sweet air as did much refresh us, and there came a smell off the shore like the smell of a garden."
Peril was past, and though fitful winds still tormented them, the 12th of May saw the long imprisonment ended, and they dropped anchor "a little within the islands," in the haven where they would be.
There are travellers who insist that, as they near American shores in May or early June, the smell of corn-blossom is on the wind, miles out at sea, a delicate, distinct, penetrating odor, as thoroughly American as the clearness of the sky and the pure, fine quality in the air. The wild grape, growing as profusely to-day on the Cape as two hundred years ago, is even more powerful, the subtle, delicious fragrance making itself felt as soon as one approaches land. The "fine, fresh smell like a garden," which Winthrop notes more than once, came to them on every breeze from the blossoming land. Every charm of the short New England summer waited for them. They had not, like the first comers to that coast to disembark in the midst of ice and snow, but green hills sloped down to the sea, and wild strawberries were growing almost at high-tide mark. The profusion of flowers and berries had rejoiced Higginson in the previous year, their men rowing at once to "Ten Pound Island," and bringing back, he writes: "ripe strawberries and gooseberries and sweet single roses. Thus God was merciful to us in giving us a taste and smell of the sweet fruit, as an earnest of his bountiful goodness to welcome us at our first arrival."
But no fairness of Nature could undo the sad impression of the first hour in the little colony at Salem, where the Arbella landed, three days before her companions reached there. Their own cares would have seemed heavy enough, but the winter had been a terrible one, and Dudley wrote later in his letter to the Countess of Lincoln: "We found the Colony in a sad and unexpected condition, above eighty of them being dead the winter before; and many of those alive, weak and sick; all the corn and bread amongst them all, hardly sufficient to feed them a fortnight, insomuch that the remainder of a hundred and eighty servants we had the two years before sent over, coming to us for victuals to sustain them, we found ourselves wholly unable to feed them, by reason that the provisions shipped for them were taken out of the ship they were put in, and they who were trusted to ship them in another, failed us and left them behind; whereupon necessity enforced us, to our extreme loss, to give them all liberty, who had cost us about L16 or L20 a person, furnishing and sending over."
Salem holding only discouragement, they left it, exploring the Charles and the Mystic Rivers, and finally joining the settlement at Charlestown, to which Francis Higginson had gone the previous year, and which proved to be in nearly as desperate case as Salem. The Charlestown records as given in Young's "Chronicles of Massachusetts," tell the story of the first days of attempt at organization. The goods had all been unshipped at Salem and were not brought to Charlestown until July. In the meantime, "The Governor and several of the Patentees dwelt in the great house which was last year built in this town by Mr. Graves and the rest of their servants. The multitude set up cottages, booths and tents about the Town Hill. They had long passage; some of the ships were seventeen, some eighteen weeks a coming. Many people arrived sick of the scurvy, which also increased much after their arrival, for want of houses, and by reason of wet lodging in their cottages, etc. Other distempers also prevailed; and although [the] people were generally very loving and pitiful, yet the sickness did so prevail, that the whole were not able to tend the sick as they should be tended; upon which many perished and died, and were buried about the Town Hill."